The legendary Dave Seaman has been in the DJ game for two decades since coming up in the UK during the acid house era of the early ’90s. He remains a vital force in house music, but these days he has a wife and three young boys to think about, so he needs to consider touring far more carefully. “I’m away most weekends, but I always take the last flight out and the first flight back wherever I’m going, be it South America or Asia,” he says. “I’ve done weekend trips to Australia, but with the cost of the airfare that’s a bit silly, so I like to try and spend at least two weeks there if I can to make the most of it. I don’t like being stuck in a hotel room all week – it gives me a chance to catch up on work, but I’d rather be with the family.”
Right now for Seaman, life is about finding the balance between playing records and spending time with his boys as they grow up. His unusual schedule has its advantages. “Most dads are home on the weekend, but I’m at home during the week, which turns things on its head a little bit,” he says. “I can drop the boys off at school and pick them up, whereas most dads are lucky if they can see their kids before bed. You just find ways to make it work.” He and his wife have recently moved to Nottingham, where she has friends and family to keep the boys busy on weekends when he’s away. “Before the kids started school, we’d do a lot of travelling together – we’d do seven-week world tours as a family, but that’s not so easy when you need to work within the parameters of school term times!”
Needless to say, Seaman is not quite the party animal he was in his youth, but he still likes to head out and see other DJs – assuming he can make it onto the guest list. “I was at Amsterdam Dance Event recently,” he says. “I was playing for a couple of nights and I had some time off, and I really wanted to go to Maceo Plex but I couldn’t get in! I sent some emails around because I was curious to check [him] out, but it was late in the day, about eight o’clock – by which point I couldn’t get hold of anybody, and I didn’t realise just how crazy busy things would be over there.” It wasn’t too bad a loss, though – he went to see John Digweed instead. “I have his phone number because he’s a mate, so it was quite easy to get on his guest list,” Seaman laughs. “I won’t often go out when I’m on tour, though. Usually, hotel rooms and flights are a chance to catch up on emails and listen to new music.”
Earlier this year, Seaman successfully released the first ever crowd-funded DJ mix compilation via a Kickstarter campaign. The main reason it came about, he says, was a desire to try something new. “I was thinking about doing another Renaissance album, but it felt like I was treading a lot of the same ground, and I wanted to do something new and different. Putting out a compilation yourself is a heck of an undertaking financially, so my agent suggested doing a Kickstarter – she’d seen it done with a few movies and local things, and I was hesitant because I didn’t know much about it and it felt like a bit of a last resort. Then I looked into it and realised that everyone from Radiohead on down has used the internet to cut out the middleman and make creative projects happen together with audiences, and it seemed like a revelation. It still felt like a risk, and I was worried that I’d end up with egg on my face, but it was a success.”
The rewards offered to those who contributed to Seaman’s Kickstarter included private parties and DJ lessons. “It’s been great,” Seaman says of his one-on-one interactions with fans and supporters. “The thing is, the market for physical music like CDs is dying, but there are fans out there who want to buy experiences. That was the key thing – how else would people get to come and do a DJ lesson with me, or come out with me for a VIP night out, or have me at their house for a private party? It opens up a two-way thing with your fan base, where you’re both getting something good.
“A lot of artists are starting to recognise that fans want something they can’t get in the shops, something they’ve never had before, and they can get that via this crowdfunding transaction,” he continues. “It’s also really great for the artists themselves, because it allows them to keep doing the things they love. In my case, that’s making [and] releasing compilations. It’s a win-win situation. I mean, the first week is pretty nerve wracking as you watch the total tick up slowly, but we got there easily in the end, so it was a great experience.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN